My wine consumption has taken a nose dive recently - not without good reason though and I hope recoverable.
An abnormality had gradually crept into my daily life - an inability to remember strings of numbers, a familiar place in conversation, of people's names, movie or TV titles and lists of things to do (fix, visit, buy, etc.). Not bad enough to isolate me but of concern.
|A Cranial Road Map|
For example: my late brother-in-law's first name - his face and demeanour was clearly visible in my mind. Retaining this image I would run through the alphabet, ie. A, B, C, .... N! Got it! His name was Norman! It's not so much that I remembered but that the letter 'N' prompted the rest of the name.
This routine, however, had deteriorated over the last year such that, if the letter stimulated a slight familiarity I would combine the consonance with a run through of the vowels, a-e-i-o-u. Often the combination would shake loose the elusive word. I put this at the nuisance level. But what next?
A visit to my GP suggested a CAT Scan which showed nothing unusual, then a Memory Test: two hours answering questions, performing simple written associations and drawing or connecting objects. Evidently one or two of my cranial lobes are starting to limp. This is my prognosis - a full diagnosis needs more tests.
The Specialist's current recommendation is to limit my daily wine intake then return in three months. Trying to avoid 'cold turkey' I suggested 4 - 5 ounces daily which was agreed and a second appointment at the end of August. I'll then see if my sacrifice has been worthwhile.
PS. For those interested, a website that provides a considerable amount of information on progressive memory loss is The HelpGuide .
THE LINEUP: (reds, whites and bubblies)
- Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012, 88a-1 -- V, Colchagua Valley, Chile, #272682 $12.75
- CRIOS Malbec 2013, Mendoza, 88-1 -- V, Argentina, #162529 $14.95
- Passion of Portugal Red Reserva 2013, 86-1 -- G, Alentejo, Portugal, #146449 $8.25
- JP Azeitao Red Tinto 2014, 83 -- G, Setubal, Portugal, #286195 $8.95
- Yauquen Bonarda Bodega Ruca Malen 2013, 83 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #360115 $14.95
- Candidato Oro Tempranillo Garnacha 2011, 82a -- G, Castilla, Spain, #523811 $7.60
- Thelema Mountain Red 2012, NR -- G, Helshoogle, South Africa, #222570 $12.95
- CRIOS de Susana Balboa Torrontés 2013, 91-3 -- V, Mendoza, Argentina, #001834 $13.95
- Humberto Canale Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013 89-2, -- V, Patagonia, Argentina, #384321 $14.95
- Horse Valley Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, 84 -- V, Danube Plain, Bulgaria, #398222 $15.95*
- Las Mulas Organic Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2014, 83 -- G, Central Valley, Chile, #272609 $12.95
- Charles & Charles Chardonnay 2013, 83 -- G, Washington State, USA, #394734 $15.95
- See Ya Later Ranch Chardonnay 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, 83 -- V, Okanagan, BC, #126912 $17.95
- Mezzomondo Pinot Grigio Chardonnay IGT 2013, 81 -- G, Sicily, Italy, #079301 $8.95*
- Finca el Origen Reserva Torrontés 2014, NR -- V, Cafayete Valley, Argentina, #262089 $15.95
- Bisol Desiderio Jeio Colmei Extra Dry Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV, 89-1 -- V, Veneto, Italy, #030601 $16.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v - Rating-Value, a - aerated, c - cellar, NR - Not Recommended)
SEE YA LATER RANCH CHARDONNAY 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, Okanagan, BC, 13% XD 7g/L, #126912 $17.95 (Tasted June 2, 2015)
Released by Vintages on January 10, 2015. My notes: A Constellation Brands Inc. winery. A bright golden in the glass and a scent of freshly cut apple touched by subtle floral and tangy lime. A sip lays a thin butter and leaves a prominent tartness on the palate. An extra dry finish carries flavours that fade to crabapple. Serve chilled as a commercial drink now perhaps with a cube or two and maraschino cherries could be a patio refresher - or pair with seafood: shells, filets, grilled freshwater shrimp or a marine platter. 83
BISOL DESIDERIO JEIO COLMEI EXTRA DRY VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE NV, Veneto, Italy, 11.5% XD 15g/L*, #030601 $16.95 (Tasted June 7, 2015)
A Vintages release on March 7, 2015. My notes: The colour is a pale golden showing a burst of varied bubbles quickly settling to a dozen fine streams. The nose has a clean pear fragrance creamy edged and a slight hay scent. Each sip has a soft spritz that fills the mouth while a faint dust covers the palate. A light warmth and suspicion of sugar follows for a long pleasing finish. Serve chilled to a festive crowd gathered for a special occasion: baby/bridal shower, wedding nuptials or good friends on the summer patio. I enjoyed with my 4pm salty crackers and hummus. Cellar several years for a drier bubbly and possibly a fuller body. 89
JP AZEITÃO RED TINTO 2014, Setubal, Portugal, 13.5% D 8g/L, #286195 $8.95 (Tasted June 4, 2015)
A General listing. My notes: There's a scarlet hue to the deep ruby of this economical red. Thin bodied with chalk dry tannin and red cherry flavouring summarizes first impressions. A swirl leaves a fine rim running fast tears and a sniff senses a fine bright aroma of cranberries. No sense of sweetness flows across the palate tart and clean. A long finish adds a metallic polish until the next swallow. Serve with a charcuterie of firm cheeses, crackers and hummus or pair with meat lovers pizza, Italian sausage/chorizo in a spicy tomato pasta. A drink now for those empty handed at a neighbourhood barbeque. 83
PASSION OF PORTUGAL RED RESERVA 2013, Alentejo, Portugal, 13.0% D 11g/L, #146449 $8.25 (Tasted June 15, 2015)
A General listing. My notes: The second Passion from Portugal the first being a Malbec, rated 91 on May 2, 2011 and priced at $14.95. This Reserva is a blend of Tinta Roriz, Tinto Barroca and Syrah. The colour is a cheerful red cherry with a matching but subdued nose. A thin film quietly recedes first showing a mild laciness then leaving the glass clear. The first sip has the brightness of crushed red cherries tart enough to clean the teeth and falling into chalky spread. Should go well with red meat dishes. We're having with sweet and sour ginger pork ribs. A drink now - cellar short term to mellow the brightness. 86
LAS MULAS ORGANIC SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE 2014, Central Valley, Chile, 13.0% XD 4g/L, #272609 $12.95 (Tasted June 4, 2015)
A General listing. My notes: Pale yellow with a mild gooseberry scent blended with just perceptible banana. The film slides down leaving a lacy rim. Some long legs are shed until the glass quickly shows no trace. A bright tartness and slight silk quickly freshens the palate and interest grows for more. A pleasing sipper however thin bodied and moderate flavour with a short lived extra dry finish. A summer drink now. Grilled cod or halibut with bean sprouts gives this white a chance to compete. 83
CANDIDATO ORO TEMPRANILLO GARNACHA 2011, Castilla, Spain, 13.0% D 7g/L, #523811 $7.60 (Tasted June 28, 2015)
A General listing. My notes: A deep black cherry colour amber hued and with a muted smoky red cherry aroma. A swirl lays a moderate film that quickly recedes through long legs. The first sip leaves the throat dry and warm with shy fruit balancing light herb and smoky oak. Aerating worked for me as a sipper. Otherwise a meal red - serve with grilled steak, liver & onions or veal marsala . Buy now for near term consumption. 82
CRIOS MALBEC 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% XD 5g/L, #162529 $14.95 (Tasted June 23, 2015)
Released by Vintages on May 30, 2015. My notes: Rated 90 by Natalie MacLean December 2014. A deep raspberry colour swirling a moderate film that thins as a rounded rim drains thru long legs. The nose shows bramble and berry fruit while the first sip is full of tang, smooth tannins and dull berries, medium bodied with a long warm finish. Decanting an hour before serving or aerating softens the bite a tad and is recommended. A solid roasted, grilled and stewed beef, lamb or wild meat complement. Cellaring a few years should show marginal change over today's rating. 88a
YAUQUEN BONARDA BODEGA RUCA MALEN 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5% XD 10g/L, #360115 $14.95 (Tasted June 11, 2015)
Released by Vintages on May 30, 2015 and rated 90 by Kim Marcus July 31, 2014. My notes: A black ruby conveys intensity in fruit and aroma. The film sticks to the glass delaying tears and conveying a smooth and full mouthfeel while the nose is neither fruity nor floral and is without acid sharpness. There's cranberry in the first sip with a bright acid but without distinct fruit. A touch of crushed blackberry seed spreads a uniform layer of tannin lasting through a long dry finish. Serve this with a seared steak, a meaty pizza or beefy hamburgers - a better choice than sipping where the dryness and bitterness becomes prominent. Cellar short term to smoothen some current roughness. 83
CHARLES & CHARLES CHARDONNAY 2013, Washington State, USA, 13.9% D 6g/L, #394734 $15.95 (Tasted June 11, 2015)
A General listing. My notes: A clear mid gold leaving a moderate film to immediately fragment before receding with only droplets remaining. A faint aroma of dried plums tartly edged. The first sip is bright and has a vanilla caramel flavour appealing for its uniqueness. The flavour fades quickly leaving a round, extra dry, stewed plum. Serve with grilled chicken or schnitzel - did not go with grilled Pacific salmon. Cellaring several years could intensify profile without overall improvement. 83
MEZZOMONDO PINOT GRIGIO CHARDONNAY IGT 2013, Sicily, Italy, 12.% XD 7g/L, #079301 $8.95* (Tasted June 9, 2015)
A General listing reduced from $9.95* until June 21, 2015. My notes: A light soft green shade casts a film that fragments quickly to a clear glass. A fresh leafy vegetable aroma is the first sniff and a medley of green melon, near the skin, with some smoothness balancing a dry, tart citrus form the first sip. The finish has flat flavourings with a subdued vegetable likeness. Serve with shellfish, mild seafood on flaky basmati rice - Started fresh then quickly faded when partnered with a coconut curry (mild) chicken breast and vegetable stir-fry. 81
VALLE ANDINO RESERVA ESPECIAL SYRAH 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 13.5% XD 7g/L, #272682 $12.75 (Tasted June 29, 2015)
Released by Vintages on February 7, 2015. My notes: A deep ruby with smoky aroma of prominent red cherries and some plum. The film is thin and fragments quickly from a light rim to slowly form small tears. Tannins layer the palate with metallic edged, bright red cherry making an interesting but tart sipper. The finish has a dry lining, all that remains of a the initial bright fruit. This may cellar up to 2 years but essentially a drink now - aerating is recommended. Serve with rare steaks, Osso Bucco and savoury stews. We're having with broiled flat iron (skirt) steaks marinated in a pepper sauce . 88a
HUMBERTO CANALE ESTATE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2013. Patagonia, Argentina, 13.5% XD 2g/L, #384321 $14.95 (Tasted June 14, 2015)
Released by Vintages on November 22, 2014. My notes: A pale yellow, a thin film and a ragged rim introduces this extra dry, refreshing white. A slight silk on the tongue with some warmth conveys a blend of southern fruit without revealing distinctness. The finish continues to open up adding a touch of oil on the lips then eventually fades leaving a light layer of chalk. A pleasing patio sipper and a meal white paired with shellfish. Serve chilled. Avoid opening other whites so as not to compete. 89
FINCA EL ORIGEN RESERVA TORRONTÉS 2014, Cafayete Valley, Argentina, 14.3% XD 4g/L, #262089 $15.95 (Tasted June 12, 2015)
Released by Vintages on May 16, 2015. James Suckling rates this 91 (July 30, 2014). My notes: A pale greenish tinged yellow that recedes leaving a uniform film topped by a ragged edged rim. Hints of vegetable aroma introduces a tangy chalk dry flavour difficult to discern for its subtlety which continues through an extra dry chalky finish. Any sweetness is veiled by a penetrating tang. A difficult sipper for its bitterness and a flavour that did not pair with BBQ'd chicken pieces. Not recommended. Bottle was discarded.
CRIOS DE SUSANA BALBO TORRONTÉS 2013, Mendoza, Argentina, 14.0% D 5g/L, #001834 $13.95 (Tasted June 22, 2015)
A Vintage release on April 1 2015. My notes: A Ratings sticker of 90 from Tim Atkin MW (2014). A mid yellow with a green tinge. A fruit aroma: lime, orange, apple with some of the perfume from earlier blooming. A swirl casts a thin film receding from a ragged rim. The first sip bursts on the palate full of butter, tangy lemon juice and flavours following the nose then ending with a light layer of chalk. Cellar up to five years, possibly longer. The occasional gulp brings out its intensity. An interesting sipper for sure and a suitable companion for seafood or roasted fowl. 91
HORSE VALLEY SINGLE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2013, Danube Plain, Bulgaria, 13.5% D 3g/L, #398222 $15.95* (Tasted June 17, 2015)
Released by Vintages on April 4, 2015. Priced reduced from $16.95 until June 21, 2015. My notes: A mid yellow with an earthy pear aroma and leaves a light film with a crackling rim. A round texture, extra dry, more earth with a stinging tartness for a refreshing sipper. There's a pumpkin flavour to offset a seared butter background lasting into a long finish. Sipping will vary widely - I wouldn't expect a rush for seconds. More of a meal white to pair with pork, roasted chicken and a rich portobello mushroom sauce. A drink now for those of a curious nature. 84
THELEMA MOUNTAIN RED 2012, Helshoogle, South Africa, 14.5% XD 6g/L, #222570 $12.95 (Tasted June 25, 2015)
A General listing. My notes: There's a hint of off-ripeness to a back cherry aroma in this blend of Shiraz (37%), Petit Verdot (25%), Cab Sauvignon (23%), Merlot (10%), Grenache (4%) and Cab Franc (1%) that neither aerating nor decanting an hour ahead could alleviate. The first sip is extra dry, has an initial sting to the acid and a bitterness to the fruit before going into a long smoky finish. A curious salty edge comes forward as the cherry recedes. A swirl lays a moderate film shedding long fast legs from a rounded rim. Not a sipper - pair with savoury sauces and grilled beef patties, a spicy pasta or pizza. Cellaring may mellow and blend but not improve the flavours overall. A 'return' if served at a restaurant. 79 NR